Gov. Edwards praises local officials, organizations on Hurricane Laura recovery efforts, but says work is far from over

Gov. Edwards praises local officials, organizations on Hurricane Laura recovery efforts, but says work is far from over
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards talks about his state's response to Hurricane Laura and to the coronavirus pandemic during a news conference, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte) (Source: Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards praised the work of state and local government agencies, as well as private and non-profit organizations, in the progress of recovery efforts that have been made in the last week since Hurricane Luara made landfall in southwest Louisiana on Aug. 27.

The governor made the comments during a news conference held Wednesday, Sept. 2 before leaving to tour storm damage in the Lake Charles area.

However, Edwards said there was a “long road ahead” for the state to completely recover from the storm. When asked about a timeline for when Cameron and Calcasieu parishes, areas that have the most extensive damage, would be habitable again, Edwards said it was impossible to give an accurate answer.

See the governor’s full comments in the video below:

Wed. Sept. 2: Gov. Edwards update on Hurricane Laura recovery

The governor explained the lack of power along the southwest Louisiana coast is the biggest hurdle in allowing people to return to their homes. Edwards said nearly 500 electrical transmission towers were damaged during Laura. About 100 of those towers he described as “very large”, saying they will require multiple 18-wheelers to transport a replacement tower.

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Another problem, he said, is many water systems in the area are either without power or sustained physical damage from Hurricane Laura. Those water systems require the damage to be fixed before power can be restored.

On a positive note, Edwards said power in the northern portion of the state was being restored quickly. As of Wednesday, Edwards said about there were about 237,000 customers without power across Louisiana, compared to more than 600,00 immediately after Hurricane Laura hit.

A fallen tree lies across part of a home after Hurricane Laura, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Leesville, La., as seen during Gov. John Bel Edwards' aerial tour of stricken areas in the northern part of the state. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool)
A fallen tree lies across part of a home after Hurricane Laura, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Leesville, La., as seen during Gov. John Bel Edwards' aerial tour of stricken areas in the northern part of the state. (Bill Feig/The Advocate via AP, Pool) (Source: STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG)

Edwards urged residents using generators to be extremely careful and ensure it was far enough away from homes, as well as vents and windows. The governor said more than half of the state’s 15 Hurricane Laura-related deaths were because of carbon monoxide poisoning from improper generator use.

Edwards asked residents who have evacuated from areas affected by Hurricane Laura to not return until given clearance by their parish and local officials.

The governor said the state was sheltering 11,452 evacuees, 10,980 of which were in hotels, as of Wednesday. He said the state was working to move the remaining more than 400 evacuees in congregate shelters into hotels to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

When asked about how the hotels were being funded, Edwards explained FEMA was covering at least 75% of the cost. He added that due to the significant damage from Hurricane Laura, he believes FEMA will end up covering 90% of the cost.

Edwards said he is aware Hurricane Laura has turned thousands of people’s lives upside down and asked the people of Louisiana to help those affected by the storm. He ended his news briefing by asking residents to continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, and follow other COVID-19 mitigation guidelines.

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